Best Infant Car Seats 2022

The best infant car seat is arguably the most crucial item on your baby registry. After all, you can’t bring your newborn home from the hospital without one. Feeling confident that you’ve chosen one of the best car seats for infants will help make that first drive less nerve-racking.

Of course, safety comes first. You want an infant car seat with all the features necessary to keep your baby secure, from leveling legs and anti-rebound bars to no-rethread harnesses. (Unfamiliar with those? We’re about to fix that.) In the event of a crash, an infant car seat with those features will help protect even the smallest babies.

“Dedicated infant seats are made to fit small babies best,” says Holly Choi, cofounder of Safe Beginnings First Aid, a baby and kids safety education organization, which offers car seat installation courses. “For newborns, a properly fitting harness and recline angle supportive of their airway will provide them with the best protection.”

After speaking with safety experts, reviewing safety ratings and testing out many of these car seats in our own cars, we’ve rated the Clek Liing, with its top-notch safety features, washable lining and foolproof installation as the best infant car seat overall. The main downside? It’s expensive. If you’re looking for a more affordable option, our best infant car seat value pick, the Chicco Keyfit 30, is half the price and also highly rated on the safety front. Here are all of our best infant car seats, and when you’re finished reading this, you may want to check out our other must-have baby essentials, including the best bassinets, swaddles and monitors.

Best Infant Car Seat Overall

Optimal Safety And Convenience In A Sleek Package

Weight of car seat: 9 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 32 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 35 pounds | Seat width: 16.9 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: Uses Maxi Cosi adapters | Special feature: Mesh peekaboo window; flame retardant free; Oeko-Tex Standard 100 certified merino wool and tencel blend fabric; made in Canada

This Clek gets top ratings from us and from the Car Seat Lady, who notes that it performs best in its class in crash tests. Consumer Reports also gave it one of its highest ratings (90). Its base has all the latest safety and convenience features—easy LATCH installation, a load leg—and it’s relatively light, narrow, and easy to maneuver. It fits preemies well thanks to its two-piece newborn insert, has straps that won’t twist or get stuck on baby’s arms or legs and works with ton of strollers using the Maxi Cosi adapters. Its seat width is fairly narrow, so if you have more than one child to squeeze into the back seat, Clek car seats are often a good choice. It’s also approved for flying by the FAA without the base, of course, and comes with a 9-year expiration date, so you may be able to pass it down to your next baby.

Best Value Infant Car Seat

Excellent Safety And Ease Of Use For An Entry-Level Price

Weight of car seat: 9.5 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 30 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 30 pounds | Seat width: 16.75 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: All Chicco strollers, some others with an adapter | Special features: Cool mesh backrest; some models have a zip-off canopy; newborn insert; bubble level indicator

No wonder this car seat has over 5,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and has topped a number of best car seat lists for years, including BabyGear Lab, Wirecutter and the CarSeat blog. It checks all the boxes, from safety to easy installation with the LATCH system. Once baby arrives, you’ll love how the extra-large canopy keeps the sun off her face when it’s snapped into your Chicco stroller. It’s a classic choice for a reason. It’s also FAA approved for flying. Our parenting editor, Rose Gordon Sala, purchased it with her third child and found it comfortable for her little one, easy to install and also easy to get both baby in and out of it and to quickly remove the car seat during errands. She says it also snapped into her UppaBaby Cruz with an adapter but was “pretty heavy to carry solo on my arm but I did have a big baby.”

Best Lightweight Infant Car Seat

A Slim 7 Pound Model That Doesn’t Skimp On Extras

Weight of car seat: 7 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 32.6 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 32 pounds | Seat width: 17.3 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: All Bugaboo strollers | Special feature: Merino wool newborn insert; four position recline base; magnetic sun canopy (included) with peekaboo window

Nuna is famous for its lightweight car seats, which can clock in at just over 5 pounds when you remove the canopy and newborn insert. The only drawback to the lightest ones is that they can’t be installed without a base, which is a downside when you’re traveling or, say, taking a ride in Grandpa’s car.

This Nuna infant car seat model is just over 7 pounds, meaning you might barely feel it in your back or on your arm. We love that the base has four comfortable recline positions for baby to relax and nap. It’s FAA approved for flying, too.

Best Infant Car Seat And Stroller Combo

The Ultimate All-In-One Baby Buy

Weight of car seat: 17 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 32 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 28.6 pounds | Seat width: 17.4 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: Stroller frame integrated into car seat | Newborn insert included: Yes | Special feature: No need for separate stroller frame or base

Push a Doona around and you’ll get jealous looks from other parents who wish they’d known about them before they bought their stroller. At least that’s how I felt when I saw another mom take her car seat out of the car and transform it instantly into a stroller. The Doona is slim and pared down—ideal if you’re always on the move and like to travel light. It does have a low frame that some taller parents have complained about and the car seat element will only work rear facing, so your little one my outgrow this combo pick earlier than another pick.

Best Infant Car Seat for Small Cars

Easy Fit For Narrow Back Seats (And Tall Parents)

Weight of car seat: 19.5 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 35 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 35 pounds | Seat width: 17 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: Chicco travel systems | Special feature: Toddler mode accommodates taller kids

It may expand to fit taller kids, but the Chicco Fit2 is actually one of the best car seats out there for narrow back seats (or tall parents). Back to front, it requires less room than most other options, while still offering a comfortable and generous seat for baby. The height max is extended in this car seat model, too, an extra 5 inches over the Chicco Keyfit 30, so you may get another few months of use or even a year out of the Fit2. There’s a base adjustment to be made to move this seat more into older baby or toddler mode that puts it into a slightly more upright position and adds a bit of room. It’s machine washable, offers easy LATCH install and includes seven headrest positions.

Best Stylish Infant Car Seat

Baby Transportation, Italian Style

Weight of car seat: 12 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 32 inches | Child’s weight maximum: 35 pounds | Seat width: 17 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: Peg Perego strollers (some with adapter); UppaBaby Vista and Cruz; universal adapter for other brands | Special feature: Cooling and warming covers available; made in Italy; load leg and kinetic pods

This car seat’s backrest has three positions to improve this infant car seat’s move from car to the stroller: sitting, relaxing and lying down. The footrest also extends for primo napping when the seat is moved to the stroller. Add the chic Italian colors (grays, pinks, slate blue) and details, and you’ve got a fashionable ride. Substance wise, it has a 10-position load leg to improve stability, kinetic pods to aid side-impact and anti-rebound bar to protect baby in case of a collision. We also like the extended canopy with a 50+ UPF rating for stroller walks and the no-rethread, six position headrest. It’s a little heavier than some of our other picks at 12 pounds.

Best Infant Car Seat Travel System

Weight of car seat: 9.9 pounds | Child’s height maximum: 35 inches | Child’s weight max: 32 pounds | Seat width: 17 inches | Washable cover: Yes | Stroller compatibility: UppaBaby Cruz and Vista; adapters for Minu, Ridge and others | Special features: Greenguard Gold certified; Flame retardant free fabric; storage pockets for harness buckles; single button base and stroller release

When my husband installed our UppaBaby Mesa car seat, he said, “I think this thing is nicer than our car.” That’s not a knock on our Subaru, either: This car seat and its complementary strollers and accessories are just really well designed. We love how it pops out of the base with a single button push, clicks right into the stroller and is easy to lift out again with one hand. I also love the pockets on either side that hold the buckle out of the way so you can get baby settled in without putting her on top of them. Install easily with the LATCH system and base or on its own without the base in a pinch. It’s one of our little nugget’s favorite places to nap. The adjustable headrest likely helps with naps but is designed extra cushy for better side-impact protection. The canopy is rated at 25+ UPF and the seat is FAA certified for flying.

How We Chose The Best Infant Car Seats

To gather research, we reviewed safety guidelines and recommendations from organizations such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA, which certifies car seats), and the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and consulted resources such as The Car Seat Lady. We then evaluated potential infant car seat picks based on the other criteria we deemed most important: ease of use, comfort and versatility. We also sought advice from Safe Beginnings First Aid’s Holly Choi, who’s also a child passenger safety technician-instructor for and board member of the Child Passenger Safety Association of Canada (CPSAC) and a member of the International Association for Child Safety (IAFCS). Finally, I drew on firsthand experience as a parent and tapped into other parents’ experiences of putting our own infants (and dollars) into these car seats.

Do I Need An Infant Car Seat?

An infant car seat is the safest way to travel with a newborn, because it’s specifically designed for babies as small as 4 pounds. Many parents wonder if they should skip the infant seat and head straight to purchasing a convertible car seat.

“Dedicated infant seats are made to fit small babies best,” as Choi noted earlier in this story. They come with the right recline modes for proper positioning, are lighter and thus an easier way to transport your baby outside of the car (you’re not going to be able to carry a convertible car seat or place it on a stroller frame) and are generally designed specifically for the first year of life. “Dedicated infant seats often come with additional crash-tested inserts to help achieve this fit for new babies,” adds Choi.

Convenience is another good reason why you might want to buy a dedicated infant car seat as opposed to a convertible car seat. Though your baby will be able to ride in the latter longer, they tend to be much heavier and less compatible travel systems.

However, selecting the right car seat also comes down to your family’s preferences and lifestyle. For example, city dwellers who rarely drive might want a car seat only for traveling—or one that’s especially easy to fasten into ride shares. If you drive your babe back and forth to daycare, you might want one that’s extra lightweight to haul around on your arm or that easily snaps into a stroller. In general, infant seats are going to be more portable and lighter than convertible car seats, but they’ll often also only last you the first year of your baby’s life.

How Long Does A Baby Stay In An Infant Car Seat?

Your baby can use an infant car seat until she exceeds either its height or weight limit—whichever comes first. Typically this happens between 10 and 13 months, says Choi, but every child is unique. It’s likely that your child will outgrow the height limit before the weight limit.

“While it’s now definitely possible for a child to use one seat for their entire car seat journey, most families can expect to use three to four seats over the time their child is in a car seat or booster seat,” says Choi.

NHTSA recommends keeping your child in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat for as long as possible because that is the safest place for her to travel.

Understanding Infant Car Seat Safety

Who Tests Car Seats For Safety?

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is responsible for the tests that ensure car seats meet federal guidelines. Remember the crash test dummies? They’re “members” of the NHTSA.

To ensure your car seat meets federal safety guidelines, look for the NHTSA safety label. It will clearly state: “This child restraint system conforms to all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards.”

Car seats certified for air travel have a round icon with an airplane on it that says “FAA Approved.”

Individual manufacturers test products as well, of course. Consumer advocate organizations and media outlets such as Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping and Baby Gear Lab do too.

What Is The Safest Infant Car Seat?

A variety of car seats at different price points meet the NHTSA’s safety standards. To see the full range that are appropriate for your child’s age, weight and height, visit

Where Is The Best Place For An Infant Car Seat?

NHTSA specifies placing a rear-facing infant car seat in the back seat, ideally in the middle position. For the safest position in your car, check the owner’s manual. It will give step-by-step car seat installation instructions specific to your model.